Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

I have three cars with over 100K miles - 95 Toyota Camry, 96 Nissan Sentra, 97 Nissan Pickup - all in need of a new valve cover gasket. Rather than spending the $600 my mechanic wants to charge for the three jobs, I thought I’d tackle it. But the usual “DIY” places seem devoid of useful info, and the Haynes manual says nothing! Perhaps it is so easy, most figure why bother? But I did this on a 75 Dodge Colt, stripped the Valve Cover bolts, leading to no end of headaches. So before I get up to my elbows in oil and crud, does anyone have how-to tips and tricks?

Try a google search. The many sites that include discussions about maintenance are called forums, so include “forum” in your search.

As I said, " the usual “DIY” places seem devoid of useful info". What I was looking for was tips about the job, not about searching!

The Autozone website has complete guides for all 3 of your cars. You have to create a free account, but they’re all there with pictures, torque specs etc.

The only real “trick” is weather you can R&R the covers without first taking half the engine apart. Before I decided to do this, I would try gently tightening the covers on the existing gaskets and see if that stops the leak…Do NOT tighten to the point you distort (bend) the covers and make the leak worse…Half the time, just snugging up the retaining bolts will stop the leak…

Yes . . . I have a good suggestion. Find a local salvage yard and locate a copy of your car . . . then pay for a valve cover, and remove the one from the salvage car while it is in the yard. You get to practice for almost no money. Look for a car with “blown motor” on the windshield so others can pick from the car without losing the valve cover. You can take it off and put it back on ten times if you want in the salvage yard . . . good practice. Then pay for the valve cover and go to the parts store and buy a new gasket, and install it on your own car. Betcha you won’t pay more than $10 for the whole experience. BTW . . . finger tight, then only a little more. Then re-tighten if you see the gasket leaking. Use bearing grease to hold the gasket to the cover when you’re putting the new one on . . . it is tacky and holds the gasket in place when you flip the cover over to put it on the head. Take a picture before you start if you have to remove a lot of hoses and wires. Have fun and learn something. Rocketman

Great ideas! Thanks everyone for all of the tips. I love the idea about trying it out in junk yard first. There are a few that specialize in foreign cars around here. If I don’t use it this time, I’ll keep it mind for the next big project. That would’ve really saved me a few headaches in the past.

Anyway, pickup is done, looking good, two more to go. . . . thanks again.